Olympic 2012 dream started here in Wakefield

Chinese Olympic hockey team training at Wakefield Hockey Club
Chinese Olympic hockey team training at Wakefield Hockey Club

A NATION’S hope of an Olympic medal at London 2012 has been given a boost thanks to team preparations here in Wakefield.

The Chinese women’s hockey team has been making the most of world class training pitches at Wakefield Hockey Club’s College Grove complex.

The team, ranked fifth in the world, trained daily in the city before they travelled to the Olympic Village on Monday.

Billions of people will see tonight’s opening ceremony around the world, but hundreds of people turned out to watch the Chinese team play two international matches in Wakefield last week.

The stay was made possible thanks to a top-of-the-range water-based pitch that meets international and Olympic standards.

It’s the only one in Yorkshire and helped the hockey club win the bid to host the Chinese team.

Speaking through a translator Jun Lei, team leader of the China Women’s Hockey team, said: “The pitch is really impressive and we thank the hockey club and city for their hospitality.”

He also joked: “We have been getting used to the bad weather.”

The team was cheered on by youngsters from Dane Royd and Ledger Lane J&I Schools as they practised on Friday.

Former Great Britain hockey captain and Olympic bronze medallist Norman Hughes, now a coach at College Grove, said it was great to see children watching top-class hockey players in the city.

Mr Hughes, who will be involved with the opening ceremony tonight, said: “The pitches look fantastic and it is a major thing to have international matches being played here. I think it is a fantastic example of partnership, but I will still be cheering on Team GB.”